A nurse standing in a hallway with her arms crossed.

Do Hospitals Hire Nurses with Misdemeanors?

Yes, hospitals may still hire you as a nurse even if you have misdemeanors on your record. While misdemeanors can have an impact on your nursing career, they do not automatically disqualify you from employment opportunities. It ultimately depends on the nature of the misdemeanor and the policies of the hospital you are applying to.

In this post, we will explore the implications of misdemeanors on nursing careers, how hospitals evaluate misdemeanors during the hiring process, instances where misdemeanors may affect your chances of being hired, steps to take if you have a misdemeanor, and tips to increase your chances of being hired despite having a misdemeanor on your record.

Understanding the Concept of Misdemeanors

A misdemeanor is a lesser criminal offense compared to a felony. It is typically a non-violent crime, such as petty theft, minor drug possession, or disorderly conduct. Misdemeanors can range in severity and can have varying impacts on your nursing career.

How Hospitals Evaluate Misdemeanors

The Relevance of a Background Check in Hiring

Hospitals conduct thorough background checks as part of their hiring process. This includes checking for any criminal history, including misdemeanors. Background checks are crucial for hospitals to ensure the safety and well-being of their patients. However, hospitals also consider other factors such as qualifications, experience, and references when making hiring decisions.

The Weight of Misdemeanors in the Hiring Process

When evaluating a candidate with a misdemeanor, hospitals typically assess the severity, recency, and relevance of the offense. They consider whether the offense directly relates to the responsibilities and duties of a nurse, as well as the potential risk it may pose to patients. Hospitals may also take into account any rehabilitation efforts, character references, and evidence of personal growth.

Instances Where Misdemeanors May Affect Your Hiring Chances

Certain Misdemeanors that are Deal-Breakers in Hiring

While the impact of misdemeanors on your nursing career can vary, there are certain offenses that may significantly decrease your chances of being hired. These may include crimes involving patient abuse, fraud, drug diversion, or any offense that directly compromises patient safety. It is important to disclose any misdemeanor convictions honestly during the application process to avoid potential issues in the future.

When Misdemeanors Become a Challenge in Your Nursing Career

Even if a misdemeanor is not considered a deal-breaker, it can still present challenges in your nursing career. Some hospitals have strict policies regarding criminal records and may have internal regulations that restrict the employment of individuals with misdemeanors.

Additionally, certain states may have specific licensing requirements that may impact your ability to practice nursing with a misdemeanor on your record.

Steps to Take if You Have a Misdemeanor

Best Practices to Handle Misdemeanors during Job Applications

If you have a misdemeanor on your record and are applying for nursing positions, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of being hired:

  1. Be honest and upfront: Disclose your misdemeanor conviction on your application and be prepared to discuss it during interviews.
  2. Show remorse and personal growth: Emphasize any steps you have taken to rehabilitate yourself and demonstrate personal growth since the offense.
  3. Highlight your qualifications and experience: Focus on showcasing your skills, qualifications, and experience to demonstrate your abilities as a competent and reliable nurse.
  4. Obtain character references: Seek out character references from individuals who can vouch for your professional abilities and personal growth.
  5. Stay updated with licensing requirements: Stay informed about the licensing requirements in your state and any potential restrictions or limitations that may be imposed due to your misdemeanor.

Legal Advice and Support for Nurses with Misdemeanors

If you are concerned about how your misdemeanor may affect your nursing career, it may be beneficial to seek legal advice. A lawyer specializing in healthcare and criminal law can provide guidance and support throughout the application process. They can help you understand your rights, navigate any legal hurdles, and provide advice on how to present your case in the best possible light.

Tips to Increase Your Chances of Being Hired Despite a Misdemeanor

Building a Strong Nursing Career despite a Misdemeanor

While having a misdemeanor on your record may present challenges, it does not mean that you cannot build a successful nursing career. Here are some tips to increase your chances of being hired despite a misdemeanor:

  1. Focus on personal growth and rehabilitation: Continually work on personal growth, rehabilitation, and showing that you have learned from your past mistakes.
  2. Obtain additional certifications and training: Enhance your nursing skills and knowledge by obtaining additional certifications and training. This showcases your commitment to professional development.
  3. Build a strong professional network: Network with other healthcare professionals, attend conferences and seminars, and join professional organizations. A strong professional network can provide opportunities for referrals and recommendations.
  4. Volunteer or work in non-traditional nursing roles: Gain experience by volunteering or working in non-traditional nursing roles, such as community health centers or rehabilitation facilities. These experiences can demonstrate your commitment to patient care and your ability to contribute to the healthcare field.
  5. Maintain a positive attitude and persevere: Stay positive, believe in your abilities, and persevere through any challenges or setbacks that may arise. Your determination and resilience can make a positive impression on potential employers.

Turning Your Misdemeanor into a Learning Experience for Your Nursing Career

While a misdemeanor may have negative implications, it can also serve as a learning experience and a catalyst for personal and professional growth. Reflect on the mistakes you made and the lessons you have learned. Use this experience to become a better nurse, advocate for patient safety, and contribute positively to the healthcare field. By demonstrating your commitment to personal growth and learning from your past, you can turn your misdemeanor into a valuable part of your nursing career narrative.

Remember, a misdemeanor does not define your entire nursing career. With perseverance, a commitment to personal growth, and a positive attitude, you can overcome any challenges and build a successful nursing career. Keep pushing forward, and remember that your past does not determine your future.


Q: Can I still work as a nurse if I have multiple misdemeanors on my record?
While having multiple misdemeanors on your record can make it more challenging to find employment as a nurse, it does not automatically disqualify you. Each hospital has its own policies and criteria for evaluating applicants with misdemeanors, so disclose your convictions honestly and emphasize any rehabilitation efforts you have made.

Q: Will a misdemeanor from many years ago affect my chances of getting hired as a nurse?
The impact of a misdemeanor on your nursing career can decrease over time, especially if you have demonstrated personal growth and rehabilitation since the offense. Many hospitals take into account the time that has passed since the conviction and consider it less relevant to your current character and abilities as a nurse.

Q: Are there any nursing specialties or positions that are more forgiving of misdemeanor convictions?
While the hiring policies may vary among hospitals and specialties, certain nursing positions, such as research or administrative roles, may be more forgiving of misdemeanor convictions that are not directly related to patient care. Research the specific requirements and qualifications for the specialty or position you are interested in.

Q: What should I do if I am unsure whether my misdemeanor will affect my chances of being hired as a nurse?
If you are unsure about how your misdemeanor may impact your nursing career, it is advisable to seek legal advice from a lawyer specializing in healthcare and criminal law. They can provide guidance based on your specific situation and help you navigate any potential challenges during the application process.

Q: Can I have my misdemeanor expunged or sealed to improve my chances of getting hired as a nurse?
Expungement or sealing of a misdemeanor conviction can vary depending on the laws and regulations of your state. It is recommended to consult with a lawyer to determine if you are eligible for expungement or sealing and to understand how it may impact your chances of being hired as a nurse.

Q: Will completing a rehabilitation program help me overcome the impact of my misdemeanor conviction?
Completing a rehabilitation program can demonstrate your commitment to personal growth and rehabilitation, which can be viewed positively by hospitals during the hiring process. Highlight any efforts you have made towards self-improvement and to provide evidence of your progress and dedication.

Q: Can a hospital refuse to hire me solely based on my misdemeanor conviction?
While a hospital can consider your misdemeanor conviction as a factor in their hiring decision, they cannot refuse to hire you solely based on that conviction unless it directly relates to patient safety or is prohibited by specific state licensing regulations. Hospitals must consider multiple factors, including qualifications, experience, and references, when making their hiring decisions.

Q: How can I address my misdemeanor conviction during a job interview?
When discussing your misdemeanor conviction during a job interview, it is important to be honest, show remorse for your actions, and emphasize the steps you have taken towards personal growth and rehabilitation. Focus on highlighting your qualifications, experience, and commitment to providing safe and compassionate patient care.

Q: Will volunteering or working in a healthcare-related field help me overcome the impact of my misdemeanor conviction?
Volunteering or working in non-traditional nursing roles, such as community health centers or rehabilitation facilities, can provide valuable experience and demonstrate your dedication to patient care. It can also show potential employers that you have the skills and abilities necessary to succeed in a nursing career, despite your misdemeanor conviction.

Q: Can I still become a nurse if I have a pending misdemeanor charge against me?
Whether or not a pending misdemeanor charge will affect your ability to become a nurse depends on the policies and regulations of your state licensing board. Disclose any pending charges during the application process and to stay updated on the requirements and restrictions in your jurisdiction. In many cases, a misdemeanor may not automatically disqualify you from becoming a nurse but it could potentially make the process more difficult.